Luo Yunchang’s group left soon after, leaving Luo Sifan sighing and returning to the shack.
Their task was to wait for Zhuo Fan’s return and ask the founding steward’s assistance. Though the odds were slim at best…
Just as they turned around, inside the shack appeared a table and a youth with covered eyes sitting in a chair next to it, enjoying tea as he talked like they weren’t there.
Luo Sifan stuttered, “B-blind uncle…”
Li Jingtian widened, his eyes turning red as he rushed in.
A century had passed since the founding steward seized power. Now this man they all admired was back. The three venerables gushed with excitement.
Zhuo Fan raised his head, smiling, “Elder Li, people, how have you been the past century?”
The highest venerable in the Luo Alliance slumped to his feet and cupped his hands, his staunch expression speaking volumes words couldn’t hold. There was also the undying loyalty shining in his eyes, stronger than he showed towards Luo Yunhai.
Having never seen the venerables so overwhelmed, the kids were now certain.
He was the one all elders in the Luo Alliance called Steward Zhuo. It was obvious now just how much effect he had over it, bigger than her father ever had.
It was seen from how the three venerables behaved that they did not plead for the Clan Head, but showed their heartfelt respect by kneeling. Like he was the Alliance Leader instead.
[But how can this be?]
[A steward from a century ago may be tough but to think he can overshadow the Clan Head? Isn’t this undermining the lord and staging a power play?]
Yet even with all that power, he still left, leaving all that clout behind.
Luo Sifan felt she understood why her father and auntie trusted him so and didn’t forget him after all these years…
Long Jianshan and Xie Nianyang were shellshocked. They knew of the venerables quirky characters and pride. They’d never shown such respect unless it was someone stronger than them.
It was jarring to see the stubborn old coots so sincere.
[They aren’t like this even around the Alliance Leader…]
The two kids found Zhuo Fan even more of a mystery. He looked like a fancy scholar now and enjoyed tea, with no air of savagery.
Luo Sifan turned her head, but Zhuo Fan stopped her from doing anything, “Girl, where are you going?”
“I’m going after auntie. They wanted to meet you and should be close still. I’ll call them back!” Luo Sifan said quickly.
Zhuo Fan shook his head, “No need. I don’t want to see them, that’s why I was hiding.”
“For I’m waiting for the plan to start.”
Zhuo Fan sighed, “I never wanted to drag you into this, but Baili Jingwei chose you and I have no choice but to make use of you. Please don’t take it to heart letting you suffer a bit.”
Luo Sifan’s lip shook, running to his side, “Blind unc-, uh, uncle Zhuo, it doesn’t matter, but dad and mom are about to be killed. Please save them!”
“Worry not, they’ll all be fine. You just need to endure a bit longer and take a bit more suffering.”
Patting her head, Zhuo Fan smiled and walked out of the shack, reaching the three kneeling venerables, “When young miss returns, tell everyone that the Luo Alliance is just like the Luo clan in the past when facing the Sword Star Empire. To win, you must throw away the unnecessary and return to the darkness. Remember, a house divided against itself cannot stand, and just ignore everything else.”
Zhuo Fan was gone.
Everyone cried, “Steward Zhuo~”
No amount of shouting brought him back.
They were looking perplexed. Steward Zhuo had clearly shown himself to give him advice, but what could it mean…
A week later, at the border between the empire and western lands, Luo Yunchang and her group walked through a thick forest and towards a worn house.
A man in black was waiting for them in a bow.
“The honored Luo Alliance guests?”
Luo Yunchang spoke coldly, “I am Luo Yunchang, the young miss of Luo Alliance. I am now handling its affairs!”
“You honor us, young miss Luo. Clan Head has been waiting a long time.”
Bowing again, the man opened the door and gestured.
Luo Yunchang took bold steps inside, with the rest following suit.
The door shut, plunging the room in darkness. This did not work to unnerve the group, keeping calm.
With a few sharp claps, fires sprung to life, revealing a smiling youth in lavish clothes, patronizing, “I’ve heard of the Luo clan that prides itself in its military heritage. Now that I see you in person, I see it rings true. For even their dame to have such mighty flair around her. I am in awe.”
“Sword Star Empire Prime Minister, Baili Jingwei, at your service, young miss Luo.” The man gave a bow and gestured to a chair, “Please.”
Luo Yunchang sat while the others stood behind her.
Baili Jingwei sat as well, men in black at his back releasing mighty auras.
“Prime Minister, what words of wisdom do you have for me?”
“I could never teach someone like you, only finding my duty in notifying young miss about one small detail.” Luo Yunchang got straight to the point, while Baili Jingwei smiled, giving her a fine piece of paper, “Accused of killing a valuable official from the central area, your brother is held for execution by heavenly punishment a month from now in the imperial capital as a warning to others. Young miss, as the only relative of Alliance Leader Luo, remember to take back his body, ha-ha-ha…”
Luo Yunchang glared hard, fumming, “What are you planning?”
“Nothing, just upholding the law. I’m only doing my duty, ha-ha-ha…” Baili Jingwei sipped his tea with a cruel smile.
Luo Yunchang darkened, with Zhuge Changfeng speaking, “Prime Minister, let’s be frank here. You’ve been employing subtle and convoluted tricks, and it can’t be just to take the lives of our Clan Head.”
“Steward Zhuge, I take it. It’s an honor.”
Baili Jingwei chuckled, “They say the Luo Alliance’s three great minds are beyond margin, one for diplomacy, one for internal affairs, and one for the military. Their names shook the western lands. I’ve long wanted to meet you, especially Steward Zhuge, a former Prime Minister such as I. It’s truly a blessing to meet at last.”
“I’m hardly of such worth. Prime Minister Baili is the one that shakes the world.”
“No no no, there’s no need for modesty. With that guy having taken power and foiled my plans, I still hold him in great esteem.”
Baili Jingwei squinted, showing his vile nature, “With all three of you here, allow me to see your skills. I signed the execution order and it’s been made public throughout the lands. There’s no taking it back now. So, how do you plan on saving your Clan Head? Ha-ha-ha, since it’s a diplomatic matter, we’ll have Sir Zhuge go first.”
The three exchanged glances growing solemn. Baili Jingwei was taunting them.
Zhuge Changfeng smirked and said, “Prime Minister, what would you mean by that? Clan Head hardly has any worth for your nation. Must he be put down? Please feel free to come forth with any request you may have, Prime Minister.”
“Bribery? Trying to gauge my limits?”
“No no no, our offer is sincere, only wanting Clan Head’s survival.”
“But I want his head.” Baili Jingwei’s eyes shone.
Everyone clenched fists, glaring at him with a puzzled look.
[Didn’t this guy ask us here to state terms? What’s he playing at…]
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